Historical figures remembered at market

Published on 12 June 2017

A SUFFRAGETTE who campaigned for women’s rights and a man who led the fight against unemployment and poverty in Edwardian Leicester are to be remembered at Leicester Market next week.

Two giant vinyls telling the stories of Alice Hawkins and Amos Sherriff – a driving force behind Leicester’s Unemployed March to London in 1905 – will be unveiled by members of their families on Market Place on Monday (12 June).

Alice Hawkins – born in 1863 – left school at 13 to become a machinist in the boot and shoe trade. She became an active trade unionist during her time at the Equity shoe factory in Leicester and campaigned tirelessly for women’s right to vote.

The new panel recounts how Alice, together with other suffragettes, would regularly address crowds in Leicester’s market place.

Alice’s great-grandson Peter Barratt said: “This new vinyl tells a fantastic story of the market’s role 100 years ago, when it was a place for local suffragettes to meet, and a place where they could speak to the people of Leicester. 

“It’s been put up just a few yards from the spot where a statue of Alice will be installed early next year, so it could not be in a better place.”

Amos Sherriff was born in Leicester’s slums in 1856 and was sent to work at the Spinney Hill brickworks at the age of six.

Despite having no formal education, Amos went on to become one of Leicester’s greatest civic and political figures.

In 1905, he was a driving force behind a huge protest against unemployment. Together with the Revd Frederick L Donaldson and George ‘Sticky’ White, Amos inspired some 450 men to march from Leicester’s market place to London to raise awareness of the plight of the unemployed.

In 1922, he became Mayor of Leicester.

His great-granddaughter Lianne Brooks said:  “My great-grandfather had little opportunity in his life to get an education but he dedicated his life to fighting unemployment and poverty.

“As a trade union representative myself, I like to think that – in a small way – I’m continuing with his work and that his spirit lives on.” 

The two new vinyls have been put up in the windows of two units on Market Place.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Until the 1930s, the market was the largest open space in Leicester – and it was the place where people would come together to celebrate or protest.

“Although the space is very different to how it was when Alice Hawkins and Amos Sherriff were campaigning for change, it remains a fitting location for this tribute to the achievements of two remarkable people.

“I hope that these latest additions to our series of heritage panels will help both local people and visitors appreciate the rich history of Leicester and its market.”

The new heritage vinyls will be unveiled at 12.30pm on Monday (12 June).

The vinyls are part of the city council’s Story of Leicester project, which has installed more than 100 heritage information panels around the city over the last three years. 

Charting Leicester’s journey from Roman times to the modern era, the panels are grouped into themes, with each theme colour-coded to make them easy to identify.

To find out more about the Story of Leicester, visit the website at www.storyofleicester.info